Though many parents strive really hard to raise their daughters as strong and independent women, it is heart-breaking how our patriarchal society fails them. Like many progressive parents, my mom and dad tried to make sure I understand that being a woman doesn’t make me any less than a man until I got married.
When you are raised in an environment, where there are no well-defined gender roles – where father cooks while mother attends a work call – you tend to believe that’s the way how a marriage should be. It never mattered in our house, who was doing the household chores. The task was always defined based on who had the time. My father cooks Biryani far better than my mom and my mom drives a car far better than my dad.
Since the time I recall, we always had two heroes in our house.
When you are brought up by such a couple who are literally equal partners, you couldn’t stop but imagine that the marriage default mode comes with equality and respect for each other. So it wasn’t a matter of surprise that I held my own marriage to such standards. I always hoped to find a partner, who treats me like an equal. But, sadly, my own marriage made me experience the ugly reality of Indian marriages first-hand.
The marriages where the demand for equality and dignity makes you unsanskaari or rebel or misfit.
Here’s My Story of Not Fitting In
Being well-educated, I assumed that my husband would be a man of progressive views. He won’t be held captive by our patriarchal society mindset. But I was so damn wrong. Every time, I shared my expectation to be treated as an equal partner, I was told my expectations were unrealistic.. Not only I was told my expectation of seeking equality was hurting our marriage but also if I don’t lower my expectations, my marriage won’t work.
I was asked to seek inspiration from women, who have accepted the regressive thought process of our society in the name of tradition.
I was asked to give up on my expectations of seeking equality and accept the society’s regressive take on how women need to sacrifice endlessly for the family. And, when I refused to compromise for equality and respect, I was labeled as a misfit or a rebel.
But, what broke my heart was when my in-laws blamed my parents for not giving me the right values.
Rather than seeking inspiration from my parents’ marriage, they blamed my parents for setting the wrong expectations of marriage and life partner. They told me that I will never be happy with what I have because I will always be comparing with what my parents have i.e. an equal marriage. So, for the sake of my own marriage – I should feel content with what I have.
In other words, I should lower my expectations to fit into society’s regressive norms.
But, the question that kept bothering me – why should I lower my expectations? Why should I feel content just because most Indian marriages are unequal and unfair? How does society see my progressive parents as people who created a wrong image for their daughter? I have decided I don’t want to fit into what our patriarchal society expects women to be! Even though, it means I have to be alone for the rest of my life.
Here are my two cents for every strong and independent daughter, who is not compromising on equality and dignity in marriage
When the daughters of tomorrow will look back, they will not see us misfits. Rather they will see us revolutionaries who brought the much-needed change in our society. So, please don’t lower your standards just to fit in. Women, please keep your standards high to make sure the men of tomorrow rise up to the occasion.